Millennials could outnumber baby boomers in the electorate in coming years but are consistently the generation with the lowest voter turnout.
According to pewresearch.org, millennials made up 27 percent of the eligible voting population in 2016 and baby boomers made up 31 percent.
In spite of being the second largest generation in the electorate, according to civicyouth.org, only 50 percent of eligible young people ages 18-29 voted in the 2016 general election.
Although voter turnout among college students was up in 2016 compared to 2012, turnout was still below 50 percent, and among those registered to vote, 68.5 percent voted, according to a 2017 Tufts University study.
Many college students are eligible to vote for the first time in the midterms Nov. 6, but they have never voted before and don’t know when or how to register. Some attend college out-of-state and don’t know whether to register in their home state or college state.
Whether a Northwest student votes in Nodaway County or their home county is personal preference, but they can only vote in one place.
Junior Starr McClain said she isn’t from Nodaway County, but chose to register here for convenience.
“I changed my registration to Nodaway County because I felt like it was more convenient than doing an absentee ballot,” McClain said. “I spend most of my year in Maryville because I am a student, so for me, voting here made more sense because I could vote for things that directly affect me.”
Missouri, Kansas, Nebraska and Iowa, as well as 35 other states, offer online voter registration with a valid state ID. Online registration can be completed through a county clerk’s website or through vote.org or TurboVote.org. In-person voter registration for Nodaway County is available at the Nodaway County Clerk’s office at 305 N. Main St. Maryville, Missouri.
Students who voted in the 2016 general election and haven’t changed their name or address since are already registered for the 2018 election. Registration status can be checked at vote.org.
Voter registration closes in Missouri Oct. 10, Kansas Oct. 16 and Nebraska Oct. 19. Registration closes online in Iowa Oct. 27 and by mail Oct. 22. Day-of in-person registration is also available in Iowa with a valid ID and a proof of address (a driver’s license counts as both).
Sophomore Tyler Bears said he registered to vote when he renewed his driver’s license.
“The lady at the DMV asked, ‘Would you like to be registered to vote,’ and I said absolutely and here we are,” Bears said. “So for me, the process was very simple and there was no time commitment.”
Social media platforms like Facebook and Snapchat did voter registration campaigns on National Voter Registration Day Sept. 25. McClain said she registered through Snapchat.
Many students choose to vote absentee because they cannot be in their hometown on election day or they have classes, clubs or practices on election day. Absentee ballots can be requested by mail using a form printed off from your local election office’s website. In some states, these forms can be picked up in person or mailed, so check the local election office’s website.
Absentee ballots must be mailed in Missouri by Oct. 31, in Kansas so it arrives by Nov. 2, in Nebraska by Oct. 26 and in Iowa before Nov. 6.
If voting absentee, the ballot must be notarized before it is signed and sent. Ballots can be notarized on campus at the Bursar’s office in the Administration building, or it can be notarized at U.S. Bank, Nodaway Valley Bank, Citizens Bank & Trust, Bank Midwest or Wells Bank.
Every state has different deadlines and rules for registration and voting. The YouTube channel How To Vote In Every State has a video for every state with deadlines, information about necessary ID’s and links to check your registration, order an absentee ballot and find your local polling place.
McClain said voting for Congress and local offices is especially important.
“Because of the results of the last election not being something I was in favor of, I realized that changing our country does not start and stop at the President, but it includes every part of Congress,” McClain said.
Bears said voting is the best way to make lasting change in your community and country.
“If you don’t like the way things are then voting is a great way to fix it,” Bears said. “Voting saves democracy, and voting saves America. Your vote matters this November and every other time there is a chance to vote.”